Friday, December 29, 2006

Best Bites

Accusations, apologies and accusations... We emptied the archives for the best political soundbites of the year in Iowa.

From their lips to your ears... with audio!

B.O. on the TV

The draft Obama folks have made it to Iowa. They're hitting the airwaves New Year's Day with a 60 second spot urging Obama to run for prez. I'm told they're not spending big bucks on the ad buy. Wanna watch?

Vonk is Zonked

He survived Christmas, but not the New Year. Looks like DNR head Jeff Vonk's out of the Culver cabinet. (What about former Culver foe Mike Blouin at IDED?) Here's the release...


(Des Moines) Today, Governor-elect Chet Culver announced that he is appointing Richard Leopold as the next Director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

"I am excited about appointing Rich to head up the Department of Natural Resources," said Governor-elect Culver. "This is an extremely important appointment and I feel Rich is the best candidate to protect Iowa’s environment and wildlife for future generations. As a sportsman, father and fifth-generation Iowan, protecting our environment is something I do not take lightly; and I know that by working together and bringing people to the table we can do this."

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is the government agency that leads Iowans in caring for their natural resources. It is responsible for maintaining state parks and forests, protecting the environment, and managing energy, fish, wildlife, and land and water resources in Iowa.

"I am honored that Governor-elect Culver has asked me to serve in this position," said Richard Leopold. "I look forward to working closely with the Culver and Judge administration as the new Director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. I know that our philosophies are similar on sustainable expansion of clean renewable energy for the 21st century, addressing our state’s water quality concerns, working to secure adequate funding for protection and enhancement of our natural resources, and other key issues."

Richard Leopold is the executive director of the Iowa Environmental Council, the nonprofit coalition made up of 76 organizations and over 600 individual members working to improve Iowa’s natural environment. Richard has held a variety of biologist, naturalist, and administrative positions within the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service, and the Minnesota and Iowa Department of Natural Resources. From 1999-2002, Leopold served as the coordinator for IOWATER, Iowa’s statewide volunteer water-quality monitoring program.

He holds degrees in biology from Minnesota State University and Central Lakes College (Brainerd, Minnesota) and has just finished his master’s degree in natural resources ecology and management from Iowa State University. Richard is active in many conservation organizations, is the past chairperson of the Iowa Conservation Education Council and is a past recipient of the Izaak Walton League of America’s "National Honor Roll Award."

Thursday, December 28, 2006


Worst kept secret revealed: John Edwards still wants to be president. Was there any doubt?
He'll make his announcement in about 35 minutes here at the State Historical Building in Des
Moines, the building just about two blocks from Tom Vilsack's current (for the next two weeks or so, at least) official office. Edwards' Iowa stop comes before he even announces in his home state. Sure looks like he's planning on competing hard on Vilsack's home turf, eh?

Now's the time to watch which homestaters pledge their support where. I just ran into former gov candidate Ed Fallon. No love for the homestater. He's volunteering for Edwards right now.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Who is he?

He knows people at the orphanage called him, "Kenneth." But should Tom Vilsack find out more? He told me he doesn't know.

The Gov told me today he read a letter from a nun from the Sisters of Charity in Pennsylvania last Sunday. He almost threw it out thinking it was a charity asking for money near the holidays.

But the letter said the nun found records from the Roselia Foundling Asylum and Maternity Hospital in Pittsburgh. That's where the Gov now knows he was born. Vilsack said his birthmother left him to be cared by the nuns after he was born.

His adopted mother, Dolly Vilsack, told him a fire destroyed the records. Vilsack says he's not mad at her (she and her husband, Bud, are deceased) "She was probably fearful I would be interested and that's understandable."

The nun told him the records could give him information about his natural mother's health, education, age and heritage at the time of his birth. He told me he's never really pushed to find out much about his mother. And he said he now worries it would be disrespectful to his adoptive parents.

He said he'll decide over the holidays about what to do. What would you do?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Bye Bye Bayh

Indiana Senator Evan Bayh surprised some Iowa dems by deciding NOT to run for prez. I saw him last a few weeks ago as he was the headliner for a luncheon by the Greater Des Moines Partnership in downtown DSM. The media outnumbered the guests at the event. Bayh told me his family was behind him if he ran. But a few minutes later, he said he would meet with his family members over the holidays to see if he had their support (???) I walked away thinking this guy was running.

Add that to the previous news former Virginia Gov Mark Warner wasn't going to try, and it's been a pretty decent month or so for Gov Vilsack. If he can just knock New Mexico Gov Bill Richardson off the list, he'll corner the democratic governor-turned-prez-candidate market.

Here's the release from Vilsack's prez staff on Bayh's bye-bye...

DES MOINES, IA -- Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack today issued the following statement in response to US Senator Evan Bayh's announcement that he has decided not to run for President:

"As Indiana Governor and US Senator, Evan has been an influential leader in our party, in his state and in our country. I look forward to working with Evan and other leaders with the courage to create change in America and bring our nation together to address the challenges that face America's families.

"Although he has decided not to run for President in 2008, Evan's voice and perspective as a successful Midwestern governor will be needed to ensure that Democrats retake the White House. Christie and I wish Evan and his family all of the best in their future endeavors."
Vilsack and Bayh have been friends for more than a decade. Each has been governor of a Midwestern state and chair of the Democratic Leadership Council."

Friday, December 15, 2006

No Duckin' the Daily

Tom Vilsack quacks his way onto national tv Monday. Vilsack's the guest on "The Daily Show" on Comedy Central (airs at 10pm Iowa time). Host Jon Stewart's been poking fun at the Gov's last name. He uses the Aflac insurance duck's quacks whenever he talks about Vilsack. All that national exposure ain't nothing to quack about (sorry, had to do it). More than a million people tune into the show each night. Expect Vilsack to ruffle a few feathers during his visit, I'm told, both literally and metaphorically. Don't miss the beginning of the show.

Speaking of fledglings, Obamarama has officially begun in Iowa. is up live. Drake student, Jordan Oster, is overseeing the early efforts. He told me it's a "fledgling operation so far". Oster grew up in Clive and helped out with Chet Culver's successful campaign for governor this last cycle.

Longtime Statehouse Sergeant-at-Arms Wilbur Rhoads passed away late Thursday night. He's been battling cancer that spread unfairly quickly over the past six months. Arrangements are pending.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

President Sagittarius?

Tom Vilsack just turned 56. He spent his birthday balancing his life. He's on a political trip in San Fran as he runs for prez. He's also as Gov trying to get a handle on the fed's raid of the Swift plant in Marshalltown. It was about a day and a half after the raid before his office sent out a release on the Gov's behalf.

It turns out December's a crowded month for the crowded prez field. In fact, December's the most crowded month of all.

Grab a calendar...




12 Mitt Romney



27 Christopher Dodd
28 Rudy Giuliani
31 Duncan Hunter


10 John Edwards
17 Newt Gingrich
24 George Pataki


7 Dick Armey


4 Barack Obama
24 Mike Huckabee
29 John McCain


12 Sam Brownback


4 Chuck Hagel
8 Dennis Kucinich
26 Hillary Clinton


15 Bill Richardson
19 Tommy Thompson
20 Joe Biden


11 John Kerry
13 Tom Vilsack
20 Tom Tancredo
23 Wesley Clark
26 Evan Bayh

So what is it with this Sagittarius crowd? Perhaps, it's in the stars. says this:

Sagittarius is well-suited to any career in which communication skills, knowledge, and inspiration are important. This is an employee who will be versatile, adventurous, and knowledgeable. They tend to be easygoing and good-natured and able to adapt easily to change.

The Archer enjoys a workplace that is lively and stimulating. They are not temperamentally suited to a job that is boring or with no opportunity for growth and learning. Sagittarius prefers a career that allows them the opportunity to expand their horizons, travel, and explore. Sagittarius natives do not like to be constricted in their daily routine or have to adhere to a lot of rules. Motivated by challenges and the chance to prove their abilities, this sign will become a life-long learner and will always be looking for new avenues to pursue. They may change careers several times in their life.

No rules. No problem. Be president.

Iowa, Tell Us What You Know

Nevada hopes to make a smooth debut as the number 2 in 08. State dems there are bringing in Jean Hessburg, the former exec director of the Iowa Dem Party, and Jayson Sime, who ran Congressman Boz's successful re-election. They'll help run the state's caucus efforts.

As things stand now for 08, Nevada gets to host the second caucus, right after New Hampshire does the first primary.

Nevada gets the early start, with big help from homestate Senator Harry Reid, because of its diverse population, particularly blacks and hispanics.

BTW, the party says Tom Vilsack leads the prez pack so far with 4 visits to the Silver State (or Sagebrush State. Take your pick).

Monday, December 11, 2006

Time to Open the Books

Just got this from the State Ombudsman's office...


State of Iowa
Citizens’ Aide/Ombudsman

Date: December 11, 2006
Re: Investigation into Randolph Public Library’s Closed Session Violations

A public library board in southwest Iowa violated the state Open Meetings Law several times last winter, according to a report released Friday by State Ombudsman Bill Angrick.
The Ombudsman’s report, issued to the Randolph Library Board (Board), includes seven recommendations designed to stop the Board from further violations of the Open Meetings Law. The Ombudsman gave the Board an opportunity to comment on the report and recommendations, as required by law, but the Board chose not to respond.

The investigation resulted from a complaint that the Board did not have a quorum at its December 2005 meeting, when it fired a library employee. The Board was involved in legal negotiations with a company, and Board members at the meeting discussed those negotiations. Before that discussion, the Board asked an assistant librarian to leave the meeting, because she was a partner in the company. The Board did this at the recommendation of the city attorney.

The Ombudsman concluded that the Board effectively went into a closed session without following the procedures required under Iowa Code section 21.5, and also improperly discussed terminating the assistant librarian. The Board contended it never went into a closed session. Assuming the Board remained in an open meeting, the Ombudsman also concluded that the Board violated the Open Meetings Law by requesting the assistant librarian to leave the meeting.

During the investigation, the Ombudsman became aware of additional violations of closed session and meeting notices, and found the Board had contradictory rules for proxy voting and the required number of Board members. The Ombudsman concluded that the Board:

· Acted contrary to law when it subsequently provided the assistant librarian with a partial agenda for a meeting that was later cancelled.

· Acted contrary to law with its practice of allowing a member to vote on a matter before and outside the official meeting.

· Had six members, but it was unknown how this came to be, and there was no written policy for resolving tie votes.

· Required that only three of its six members be present at a meeting to call quorum, contrary to state law, which requires a majority of members be present in order to establish a quorum.

During the investigation, the Board reduced the number of members to five, and adopted a policy requiring that three members be present at a meeting before it calls a quorum, actions that the Ombudsman finds are in accordance with Iowa law.

Also during the investigation, the Board justified some of its actions by saying it had relied on the city attorney’s advice. In response, the Ombudsman’s report said a government body has an obligation to know the requirements of the Open Meetings Law, and while individual public officials who rely on formal legal advice may be shielded from liability for monetary damage, the governmental body can still be held liable for court costs and attorney fees.

The Ombudsman’s report concludes with the following recommendations to the Board:

1. The Board should not exclude any members of the public from its open meetings. If the Board wants to discuss a matter privately, it should determine if it can go into a closed session under Iowa Code section 21.5 and follow that procedure.

2. If the Board wants to go into a closed session, it should do so only under one or more of the eleven enumerated reasons stated in Iowa Code section 21.5, and only after it has followed the required procedures. In addition, the Board should limit the discussion to those matters for which it went into the closed session.

3. The Board should provide the complete agenda to all members of the public. Agendas must be posted in a prominent place that is easily accessible to the public. Agendas should contain sufficient information to inform the public the actions to be taken and matter to be discussed at the meeting.

4. Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, states proxy voting “is not permitted in ordinary deliberative bodies” and generally discourages its use. The Ombudsman believes it also contravenes the intent of Iowa’s open meetings law for governmental decisions, and the basis and rationale for those decisions, be easily accessible to the people. Because it is highly questionable whether proxy voting is legally permissible to be used by Iowa governmental bodies, the Ombudsman recommends against its usage.

5. The Board should cease the practice of allowing a member to declare his or her own vote to the President prior to and outside the meeting at which the matter will be decided. The Ombudsman believes such action violates the intent and the implicit requirement of the open meetings law for members to deliberate and vote at the appointed meeting.

6. If the Board conducts an electronic meeting, it should ensure the public can hear the absent member through a speaker phone or other means. The minutes must state why a meeting in person is impossible or impracticable. The Ombudsman recommends the Board incorporate written rules on how and when electronic meetings will be conducted, and ensure they are in compliance with Iowa Code section 21.8.

7. The Board should ensure all its members are knowledgeable about the Iowa Open Meetings Law and Iowa Open Records Law, Chapters 21 and 22 of the Iowa Code, respectively. Relying solely on the legal council’s advice will not shield the government body from liability if the body fails to follow these laws.

Copies of the report are available on request, or from the Ombudsman’s website at

The Office of Citizens’ Aide/Ombudsman investigates complaints about most agencies of state and local governments in Iowa. It may also help people effectively raise their concerns to government agencies or understand why an action was taken.

In addition to the website, Iowans can contact the office toll-free at 1-888-426-6283 [or in the Des Moines area at (515) 281-3592]. The office has a TTY which can be reached using the toll-free number or at (515) 242-5065. The fax number is (515) 242-6007. The address is Ola Babcock Miller Building, 1112 East Grand Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa 50319.

Dennis the Menace, Part 2

Good thing I saved my kernels. Dennis Kucinich is back in the race. Tuesday, Kucinich will announce he's running for president. Again.

Kucinich's peeps handed out these packets of "seeds of hope" when he ran the first time. They planted some corn in front of the Des Moines prez headquarters. But, if memory serves, it violated something or the other, so they had to take it out. Will it grow any better this time around?

Happy B., JFK


JFK turns 63 today. Perhaps, he'll tell a few jokes over cake and ice cream. Perhaps, not.

In case you wondered, "Kerry" is Irish, a derivative of Carey.

And f you want to wish him well, but just can't find the words...

It's Happy Birthday! in 97 languages

Afrikaans - Veels geluk met jou verjaarsdag!
Albanian - Urime ditelindjen!
Alsatian - Gueter geburtsdaa!
Amharic - Melkam lidet!
Arabic - Eed melad said
Armenian - Taredartzet shnorhavor! or Tsenund shnorhavor!
Assyrian - Eida D'moladukh Hawee Brikha!
Australia - Happy Birthday
Austrian-Viennese - Ois guade winsch i dia zum Gbuadsdog!
Aymara (Bolivia) - Suma Urupnaya Cchuru Uromankja!
Basque - Zorionak!
Belauan-Micronesian - Ungil el cherellem!
Bengali (Bangladesh/India) - Shuvo Jonmodin!
Bislama (Vanuatu) - Hapi betde! or Yumi selebretem de blong bon blong yu!
Brazil - Feliz Aniversario, Feliz Feliz Aniversario
Breton - Deiz-ha-bloaz laouen deoc'h!
Bulgarian - Chestit Rojden Den!
Cambodian - Som owie nek mein aryouk yrinyu!
Canada - Happy Birthday
Catalan - Per molts anys! or Bon aniversari!
Chamorro - Biba Kumpianos!
China - Sheng Ri Kuai Le or Saang yaht faai lokik
Croatian - Sretan Rodendan!
Czech - Vsechno nejlepsi k Tvym narozeninam!
Danish - Tillykke med fodselsdagen!
Dutch - Hartelijk gefeliciteerd metje verjaardag
Ecuador - Feliz Dia del Santo
Egypt - Kule Sana Winta Tayib (boy)Kule Sana Wintie Tayyiba (Girl)
English - Happy Birthday!
Esperanto - Felichan Naskightagon!
Estonian - Palju onne sunnipaevaks!
Euskera - Zorionak zure urtebetetze egunean!
Faroes (Faroe island) - Tillukku vid fodingardegnum!
Farsi - Tavalodet Mobarak!
Finnish - Hyvaa syntymapaivaa!
France - Joyeux Anniversaire!
French-canadian - Bonne Fete!
Frisian - Lokkiche jierdei!
Gaelic - Co latha breith sona dhut!
Galician (Spain) - Ledicia no teu cumpreanos!
Germany - Alles Gute zum Geburstag orHerzlichen Gl├╝ckwunsch zum Geburtstag
Georgian - Gilotcav dabadebis dges!
Ghana - Happy BirthdayMedzi dzigbe njkeke nyuie no wo (ewe tribal language)
Great Britain - Happy Birthday
Greek - Eftixismena Genethlia! or Chronia Pola!
Greenlandic - Inuununnu pilluarit!
Gronings (Netherlands) - Fielsteerd mit joen verjoardag!
Gujarati (India) - Janma Divas Mubarak!
Hawaiian - Hau oli la hanau!
Hebrew - Yom Huledet Same'ach!
Hiligaymon (Philippines) - Masadya gid nga adlaw sa imo pagkatawo!
Hindi - Janam Din Ki Badhai
Hungarian - Boldog szuletes napot
Icelandic - Til hamingju med afmaelisdaginn!
India - Sal Girah Mubarak
Indonesian - Selamat Ulang Tahun!
Irish - gaelic - La-briethe mhaith agat! or Briethla Shona Dhuit!
Israel - Yom Holedet Sameach
Italian - Buon compleanno! or Bun Cumpleani!
Japanese - Otanjyobi omedeto Gozaimasu!
Javaans-Indonesia - Slamet Ulang Tuanmoe!
Korean - Saeng il chuk ha ham ni da!
Latin - Fortuna dies natalis!
Latvian - Daudz laimes dzimsanas diena!
Lithuanian - Sveikinu su gimtadieniu! or Geriausi linkejimai gimtadienio proga!
Macedonian - Sreken roden den!
Malaysian - Selamat Hari Jadi!
Maltese - Nifrahlek ghal gheluq sninek!
Maori - Kia Huritau ki A Koe
Mexico - Feliz Cumpleanos
Mongolian - Torson odriin mend hurgee!
Native American - Haptee Hocuenera Hinigiren
The Netherlands - Van Harte Gefeliciteerd orHjertelig til lykke medfodselsdagen
Nigeria - Eku ojobi
Norway - Gratulere Med Daged
Persian - Tavalodet Mobarak!
Peru - Feliz Cumpleanos
Polish - Wszystkiego Najlepszego! or Wszystkiego najlepszego z okazji urodzin!
Portuguese (Brazil) - Parabens pelo seu aniversario!
Portuguese - Felix Aniversrio! or Parabens!
Quebec - Bonne Fete
Romanian - La Multi Ani!
Russia - s'dnom roshedenea or Sdnyom rozhdenya
Samoan - Manuia lou aso fanau!
Serbian - Srecan Rodjendan!
Spanish - Feliz cumpleanos
Sri Lankan - Suba Upan dinayak vewa!
Sudan - Aid Milad Jamil
Swedish - Grattis pa fodelsedagen!
Taiwanese - San leaz quiet lo!
Thai - Suk San Wan Keut
Turkish - Dogum gunun kutlu olsun!
Ukranian - Mnohiya lita! or Z D dnem naradjennia!
Venezuela - Hoy Es Tu Dia
Vietnamese - Chuc Mung Sinh Nhat!
Welsh - Penblwydd hapus
Yiddish - A Freilekhn Gebortstog!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Early Bird


Roll Call gave another reason for the Underdog fans to hold onto their cape. The article says Tom Vilsack's only the fifth to file his papers and formally announce his run for prez in the same year that held midterm elex since 1968.

Another guy who did that? Jimmy Carter.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

One word...Hillary

(Is that pork, Mrs. C?)

She's calling the who's who in Iowa. She wants them to come meet her for dinner in D.C. next Tuesday. Sure sounds like Hillary Clinton is doing some serious thinking about the prez thing.

Why the sudden push? Gordon Fischer, the former Iowa state democratic chair, who is now pushing for Tom Vilsack, told me Vilsack has done so well on his announcement tour, that Mrs. Bubba had to get at it. Others tell me it's not Vilsack, it's Obama. Dems like to call him the "rock star" of the party. They argue that Mrs. C needs to let the big money (and the true organizational types) know that she may run. She needs to lock up their support and their money.

First woman prez vs. first african-american prez vs. adopted son orphaned at birth. Those Iowa caucuses could sure be somethin', huh?

Friday, December 01, 2006

I'll Be There

The "Meet Me, Like Me, Vote for Me Tour" is underway. Tom Vilsack is in New Hampshire.

A few tidbits left from my time with him in Mt. Pleasant...

Reach Out and I'll Be There (#1 in 1966) That was the song they played as the Vilsacks left the stage after the announcement. A staffer tells me that song played on Tom and Christie's first date...

The secret to the First Lady's Cheesy Corn Casserole? She told me it's lots of cayenne pepper (I tasted it. It has a hell of a kick to it).

Stress relievers for the Vilsack...(again, according to Christie) Her hubbie either goes for a run or paces the floor--like he did before his announcement speech. She scrubs the floors. I'm sure the White House staff would go for that:)